Today is Mahavir Jayanti, and I want to wish everyone a very Happy Mahavir Jayanti. Mahavir Ji was born as Vardhamana and he was the 24th Tirthankara of Jainism. Jain dharma is one of the most beautiful dharmas on our planet and I am saying this because some of the most beautiful souls that I had the honour to know have been people belonging to Jainism.
Jain dharma does not have gods, they have Tirthankars and the word Tirthankara means the person who helps a soul to do the Tirth (spiritual journey) across the sea of innumerable births and deaths and to free a soul from this cycle of rebirth and death, to free one from this Sansara and attain Kevala Jnana(omniscience) or Moksha as we know it in Hinduism.
Mahavir Ji was born in Kundangrama or Kundalpur in 6th century BCE to Queen Trishala and King Siddhartha into the Royal Kshatriya family of Ikshvaku Dynasty. His father was the King of the Kingdom of the Videhas in present-day Bihar. At just 30 years of age Mahavir Ji renounced his royal life to live an ascetic life. After 12 years of practicing austerities and doing penance ,Mahavir Ji achieved Kevala Jnana(infinite knowledge).
Mahavir Ji taught many lessons to his disciples like Life exists in animals, plants, insects and even in water, fire and wind; he also taught about Anektavada(many-sided reality) which means that there are various sides of reality and every individual perceives that reality according to their mental framework. Mahavir Ji also taught that there is a soul present in every living being but he didn’t believe in gods. The most important lessons that he taught to his disciples were the lessons of 5 Vrata(Vows) and they are:-
1. Ahimsa(Non-Violence)- Mahavir Ji taught that every living being should be respected and ahimsa can be shown, done or practiced through our actions, speech and thoughts.
2. Satya(Truth)- Everyone should speak only that which is true.
3. Asteya(Non-Stealing)- Everyone should be content with what they have and that they should not steal what is not theirs.
4. Brahmacharya(Chastity)- Everyone (whether a householder or an ascetic) should follow Brahmacharya.
5. Aparigraha(Non-Attachment)- Everyone should develop detachment or non-attachment to one’s property, wealth and even family through practice.
According to my perspective, Mahavir Ji lived a very austere life as an ascetic. The amount of hardships that he went through to attain Kevala Jnana is beyond comprehension for people like us who are living in this modern 21st century where we live in well-built houses, with soft beds, attached washrooms(with geysers), air-conditioned rooms,comfortable cars, foreign and exotic fruits and vegetables to eat, online food delivery apps to order anything from Italian to Chinese and everything in between, collections of branded clothes, perfumes, shoes that can put a yesteryear King to shame etc. It requires a heart of a lion to walk the path of self-realization as Mahavir Ji did and that’s why I think that his statue is denoted with the symbol of a lion(present on the pedestal of his statue in the cover image above). Mahavir Ji fasted for a lot of days, meditated most of the time and even became a Digambar by renouncing his clothes. The amount of emphasis that Mahavir Ji has placed on Ahimsa,no one has in the whole world. The most significant aspect of Mahavir Ji’s life is that even after attainment of Kevala Jnana or Moksha,he didn’t gave up his life of hardships,austerities or penance but continued to follow it until he attained Nirvana(death) at the age of 72 years and that’s why we bow down to him,that’s what makes him different from every spiritual entity that has ever walked on this planet.
At last i want to say that when there is violence everywhere in the world; when everyone we know is a liar to some extent; when everyone is looking to steal something from someone everytime; when cases of rape, molestation, infidelity are off the charts; when everyone is attached to their belongings like they are going to take it along with them after death; I hope that we can learn something from Mahavir Ji’s 5 Vows of Ahimsa, Satya, Asteya, Brahmacharya and Aparigraha on this spiritual day of Mahavir Jayanti.